Friday, June 1, 2007

Boomers: An Undertapped Resource?

This week, the topic of recruiting Baby Boomer volunteers came up in a presentation I delivered on the sector. The context: thinking broadly about recruiting new volunteers from new sources.

Boomer volunteerism isn’t new. But there may be expanding opportunities to engage Boomers as they begin to redefine retirement and the years leading up to it.

Emerging research and anecdotal evidence suggest that my generation will take a very different approach to this next life phase. First, many of us will continue working, at least part time. Financial necessity won’t be our only motivation in this shift. We may see this as our opportunity to act on our passions and ideals without worrying about contributing to pensions and paying mortgages.

This is good news for the nonprofits. While many of the Boomers who have driven the sector look forward to their own life transitions away from the stress of years doing all-consuming work, others will look to the nonprofit in our search for meaning (and a bit of income) in our later years.

We’ll also turn to volunteerism in new ways, with new commitment. As the constraints of daily life that dominated much of our adult lives begin to loosen, those of us who have given our time may find new energy to share. Other Boomers who do not share that volunteerism history may now be ready to consider taking that step. It is an opportunity that nonprofits should be preparing to address, in creative ways that acknowledge the interests and motivations of this generation.

A good starting point for understanding the potential and the challenges of engaging Boomers in new ways, visit this links page.

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